A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

The Agriculture of Today (1936)

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
(The Germans of the Community of Feketitsch)
Translated by Brad Schwebler

     The present situation of the descendants to those farmers in reference to the "Bewirtschaftung" (hospitality) of his fields, as well as affecting cattle, horses, and pig breeding, the possibility of sale and profitability, and to keep a tradition will be mentioned in detail here - how the session farmer with about 40 chains of field carried this out will be written down.

     The entire surface was usually planted, the larger half with stalk fruit in the form of bread and feed grain, the smaller half with corn, some Mohar and Luzerne, as well as for their own household needs also with potatoes, vegetables, fruit, and vines. - The relationship to the whole complex was usually arranged as follows:

          wheat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . 18 chains

          feed barley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2 chains

          oats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2 chains

          corn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 chains

          Mohar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . .  1 chain

          Luzerne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  ½ chain

          potato, wine, fruit, and vegetable gardens. .  .½ chain  

     To work the 40 chains of field a farmer needed four good horses (Zugvieh), he had a work force of a Salasch man and his family who lived permanently on the "Salasch" (farm yard on the field) and a small 15-16 year old farmhand who boards with the farmer and also dines with him at the table.  

 Salasch Owner: N.K. Schmidt 35-40 chains

The sides of the yard of this Salasch
pg 263: Owner: N.K. Schmidt


     At the beginning of October  the ground was broken up and plowed under with a ladder "Schleife" approximately three to at the most five inches.  The prepared plowed land, in which the corn stumps did not come out, was broken up and leveled again with the ladder "Schleife" and the seeds were planted approximately 3-4 centimeters deep, usually with an 18 row sowing machine.

     The preparation of the seeds seemed to be done in more recent times, commonly a "Petkus" seed cleaning machine which was purchased for about 42,500 Dinar with the help of the farmers and the local farming association.  This seed cleaning machine coated the seeds against "Kugelbrand" (ball fire) with the newest dry coating agent (such as Tillantin, Porzol, and others).  For the cleaning and coating, if the member applied the coating agent himself, he paid 4%.  

Two blade plow

     When the kinds of seeds used, especially in the last years, were already more for quality than quantity, just the quality kinds were "Prolifik" and still many other kinds are guilty of it because of their poor sticking ability (Klebergehaltes), that the wheat cost us so little.  The quality kinds were now cultivated: Bankuter, Dakotaer, Bastart, and Leganyer wheat which not only stuck well (kleberreich), but also the yield wasn't much less. - 125 to 140 kg. of seeds were used per chain.  

Ladder "Schleife" (loop)

     The direct fertilization under the wheat was refrained from because the fertilization with stable manure immediately before the cultivation, partially because the lack of time, which is no longer possible.  Therefore wheat is usually cultivated after the corn and the field is first cleared shortly before the new cultivation of the corn.  Also the stalk fruit reacted from a direct dose of stable manure usually from what was in stock. - Artificial fertilizers were again no longer used around on the farms (despite people being clear in general of their useful effects.)  Because this was not favorably priced with the wheat (super phosphate 18% cost 96.+ Dinar, (Kalkstickstoff) calcium 14% cost 172.+ Dinar and "Kalisalz" (calcium salt?) 40% cost 176.+ Dinar per 100 kilograms.)

 "Petkus" seed cleaning machine

Welker's farm  

     Now the wheat is (drilled in) planted, the machine rows were (zugeschleift?) with the chain “Schleife" and the cultivation of the fields ended with it.

     The time of the "Aussaat" (sowing) started in the middle of October.

     The further treatment of the wheat seeds consisted of the "Abschleifen" of the prepared "aufgelaufenen" seeds in the springtime, after which the rest of the corn husks (Kukuruzstarze) which the plow had not plowed under in the fall were picked up and taken away, after a warm    rain the "Kultur" (cultivation) was harrowed with the seed harrow, and until the harvest it was left up to our Lord (Himmelsvater).

Chain (Schleife?)   

Seed Harrow  

The Harvest

     The wheat normally ripened at the end of June or the beginning of July.  The harvest was usually begun in the "Wachsreife" when the wheat was at its best and most beautiful, especially its quality in color and weight in hectoliters at this stage.

     There the session farmer did not cultivate his 22 chains of stalk fruit with all of his own people and also did not want to, so he usually still had two pair of "Riefaren who were paid a percentage of the grain (Perzentlohn), often the same as the "Salasch" man.  About a 11th part of the kernel "Fechsung" was arranged.

     The "Riefar" had to achieve the following work for this eleventh part: "Abmehen", insertin in the ropes, rake, set the sheafs in a cross, and he also had to help at the "Einführen (introduction) and threshing.

     The yield is usually 25-30 in Kreuzen (for 18 sheafs), in kernel "Fechsung", averaging approximately 12-15 Metzen per chain.

     The grain sitting in crosses remained on the field for the "Nachreife" approximately 6 to 8 days and afterwards these were taken to the workyard and placed together in the sheaf shed.  As soon as all of the grain of the stalkfruit was brought in the threshing machine came and the threshing work began.

The Threshing

(2 pages missing)


Today’s harrow

(Jumped to pg. 236)

and in the Spring the harrowed land was already cultivated.  However there was also for a few years a cultivation of winter oats which were already also cultivated as an experiment, but until now it was not widely spread.  Seeds were of both sorts, so spring oats as well as winter oats were used 80 - 90 kg. per chain.  These seeds were generally not treated.  The oats matured starting in July and yielded 14 - 16 Metzen in good weather, especially the winter oats.  

The Corn

     A principally cultivated plant of our farmers in the spring is corn.  The preparation in the fall 8 - 10 inches deep on plowed land was in the spring harrowed two or three times and also turned twice and the corn was usually planted in the middle of April.  Seeds usually matured early (end of August, start of September) and yellow "Zahnmais" (tooth corn) was used according to the width of the rows, from 10 up to a whole 20 kg. per chain.  The cultivation of corn by our farmers was very different.  It was done with a drill machine or a planting machine designed with characteristics for corn planting which did not sow the seeds in rows like the drill machine, but in even measured distances, which planted the seeds set in the four corners of the pole.  The width of the row was also different, from 22 inches (58 cm) up to 28 inches (74 cm) by a two pole system 34 - 36 inches (90 - 95 cm).  After the corn is planted, it is harrowed and turned.  As it was made easier for the young corn kernels to emerge and with it the young plant should get more warmth, the corn field will be harrowed with the seed harrow when the corn comes up.

 The Häufel plow


     When the plant is 10-12  cm high, the reaping of the corn plants is begun with the "Hackpflug" (chopping plow) to which a horse is harnessed, driven through the plant rows and around the plants with the hand axe chopping.  The second reaping of the corn plants was often approximately 14 days after the first reaping but it was usually first carried out  after 3 weeks when the plants were 30 - 35 cm high.  Too many plants standing in the row were also simultaneously removed.  Some of our farmers still had to do the rows again with the "Pferdhacke" (horse chopper) after the second hacking to preserve the crumbling structure of the earth and to prevent the odor of the ground moisture in the hairline cracks.  Most of the farmers had the treatment work but finished with the chopping.  The corn cobs were stripped of the surrounding husks, broke off at the stalk and gathered either in a large apron or a small basket.  

Corn Planter   

The Corn Breaking  

     The corn ripens as already mentioned usually at the end of August or the beginning of September.  Then it was emptied on a free spot cleared for this purpose beforehand.  So many similar large piles of corn were made as the workers performed all the work in the many parts.  When the work was finished the part that was the farmer's, chose his own piles to usually put in the "Schardak" and the workers in the field were left behind and afterwards driven to home.  The corn husks (of the cobs) were cut right after the breaking, bound and made into bushels.  

American corn planter

     The yield to be cultivated was normally approximately 36-40 Metzen of corn cobs per chain.

     The process of the corn plantation cultivated by the farmer were to be given as wages (Teillohn), and in several families 3-4 chains per family and paid for that twice, chopping about the stalk directly and breaking it (because the horse chopper was still going through the row beforehand), the corn was carried into the "Schardak", the corn husks were cut, tied and set up, usually a 6th and only seldom a 5th part of the corn "Fechsung".  The corn was chopped (in Taglohn) (daily wages?), or the farmer chopped the corn with his own people themselves, so he paid for the breaking, carrying the corn in the "Schardak", husk cutting, tieing up, setting up, usually an 8th part of the corn "Fechsung".

     "Mohar" was usually cultivated only for the preparation of hay for the horses, and had a normal yield, in damp weather in the spring, of approximately four wagons, with a weight of about 30-32 Metzen.

     The "Luzerne" was used by the farmer partially in (grüngemähten) green- condition for summer feed of his entire livestock and only a small part for the benefit of hay which he then used to feed his (Nutzvieh?) cattle (cows and calves) in the winter.

     Potatoes and vegetables were cultivated exclusively only for the particular household needs.  On the other hand some of the freshest fruit and some of the freshest wine was sold, but only infrequently.    

Source: The Germans of the Community of Feketitsch by Dr. Viktor Pratscher. Herausgegeben vom Festausschusz der Gedenkfeier.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]